Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

 

I have been looking forward to this one.  It is one of the first passages of scripture I ever memorized and as such it has been part of who I am for the last 40 years.  In a way, it is one of my oldest friends.  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  From the moment I open my eyes, until the moment I lay down to sleep, no, even more than that; waking or sleeping there is not now, nor has there ever been a time when God has not been looking after my needs.  At times I was and still am a poor listener and acted more like a stubborn and willful donkey than an obedient and trusting sheep, but that does nothing to change the fact that my Lord and Shepherd has always, always, always been looking out for me.

 

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.  He knows where I have been, and He knows where I am going, and therefore He knows when I need to stop and rest.  That is why sometimes He will actually make me stop to rest.  Sometimes I am so anxious to get to the next thing, that I will fight Him and try to push and force the few pieces I can see into place, but this is always a mistake that makes it take that much longer.  Father, help me to be mindful enough to lean on your perfect timing and not my own.  Help me to remember to enjoy the cool water and green grass when it is offered, for that is how you restore my soul.

 

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His namesake.  I am called by His name, therefore everywhere I go, everything I do, every word I say, it is as a representative and an ambassador of Heaven.  I want to make my Shepherd proud so that when people speak of me it brings honor to the one I represent.

 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.  How did I even get into this valley?  It is because You , my Shepherd, led me here and now I am so very grateful that we stopped to rest in that green meadow with the deep tranquil stream running through it and did all of that soul restoring, because there ain’t nothing green or tranquil in this valley.  Even so, I have nothing to fear, because no matter where I walk, I never walk alone.  You are always here readily equipped with rod and staff to bring me comfort.  With your staff you drive away any foe that would seek to cause me harm, and that is very comforting.  With your rod you correct my disobedient spirit.  That is a bit less comforting, in fact it often hurts, but I know I can trust you, and everything you do is for my benefit.  You love me and it is by Your rod of correction that I will learn obedience, and my obedience is the smoothest path to the bountiful rewards you have promised.  Though there is pain in the learning, the blows of correction are sweeter and more comforting that the gentle caresses of those who would try to lead me away to my death.

 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  Not only do I have nothing to fear in the valley of the shadow of death, but with You by my side we are not just surviving, but feasting.  With enemies surrounding on every side, You set a banquet where cups and goblets are never empty and you pour hot coals on their heads by anointing mine with the oil of kingship.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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